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Greyhounds start strong, struggle to finish against Wolves

The positives and negatives of pre-season hockey are something Soo Greyhounds coach John Dean called normal for the early part of the season
2021-09-25 Greyhounds vs. Sudbury BC (1)
A pair of Soo Greyhounds forwards look to jam a loose puck past Sudbury Wolves goaltender Mitchell Weeks during exhibition action on Sept. 25, 2021.

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If Saturday’s Ontario Hockey League exhibition contest between the Soo Greyhounds and Sudbury Wolves is any indication, the rivalry between the two clubs could be seeing an increase this season.

Marking the second of three pre-season meetings between the Northern Ontario rivals, the Wolves scored five unanswered goals en route to a 5-1 win over the Greyhounds at the GFL Memorial Gardens.

In a game that brought with it some physicality and brewing bad blood between the teams, it was a game that was far from perfect at times for the Greyhounds.

“I expected to see some good and some bad,” Soo Greyhounds coach John Dean said. “We went through a lot of systems without many games over the last three weeks so you expect to see a lot of thinking by your group. Sometimes making the right decision means a slow decision because they’re trying to do what coach thinks is right.”

Dean added that he was pleased with the first half of the contest but felt the team “struggled in the second half.”

“I didn’t love the way we faced adversity,” Dean added.

“You have to show a lot of poise and confidence in your play that when your back is against the wall, you trust your skillset and what you can do to make sure you’re accomplishing your goals,” Dean also said. “At this level, the other team feels the same way and when your back is against the wall and they start to play desperate and you don’t, you find yourself in trouble.”

The Greyhounds opened the scoring as Kalvyn Watson converted a chance in tight, beating Sudbury starter Mitchell Weeks.

Alex Assadourian got the Wolves back on even terms at 11:34 of the middle frame when he beat

In the opening minute of the third, rookie forward Quentin Musty got his second goal of the pre-season, beating Schenkel from the left circle to put Sudbury ahead for good.

Just under five minutes into the third, Cole Crowder put Sudbury ahead 3-1 moments after a faceoff win by Ethan Larmand.

Assadourian made it 4-1 just past the midway point of the third when he beat Schenkel glove side from the right faceoff circle with 9:40 to go.

Defenceman Joshua Hoover capped off the scoring for the Wolves, beating Schenkel with a shot from the left point in the final minutes of the contest.

Ivanov stopped all 14 shots he faced in just under 30 minutes of work in the game while Schenkel stopped 16 of 21 shots the rest of the way.

Weeks made 43 saves for the Wolves.

Landon McCallum and Kocha Delic assisted on a pair of goals for the Wolves.

While the game was a struggle after a solid start, Dean said seeing positives and negatives early on is “normal for this time of year.”

“I liked our aggression on the forecheck and how we were on top of the puck,” Dean said. “We saw snippets of some of the stuff that we’ve talked about over the last couple of weeks. We still don’t look very connected, but there was some good individual stuff to go back to and look at positives.”

“The biggest thing we’ve talked about with our group is our habits,” Dean added. “We’ve talked significantly about our habits and what that looks like on a day-to-day basis. Our systems will come.”

The Greyhounds wrap up their exhibition schedule on Oct. 1 on the road in Sudbury.

The team will open up regular season action on Oct. 8 at home against North Bay.